Tokyo Olympics 2020: New Zealand committee monitoring coronavirus outbreak for changes

No Kiwi athletes have expressed concerns about traveling to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics.
No Kiwi athletes have expressed concerns about traveling to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics. Photo credit: Getty

The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) say they're closely monitoring the deadly coronavirus situation in Japan and are preparing as if the Tokyo games will go ahead as scheduled. 

Growing concern over the spread of COVID-19 in Japan has led to the Japanese government requesting all sports events due to be held there in the next two weeks be cancelled.

The World Health Organization says COVID-19 has killed nearly 3000 people and infected more than 80,000. There have been 850 cases of coronavirus in Japan - 705 onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, and 189 on land - including four deaths. 

As it stands, the Olympics, scheduled from July 24 - August 9, are going ahead and NZOC spokesperson Ashley Abbott told Magic Talk that no New Zealand athletes have expressed any concerns about traveling to Japan. 

"It is a topic of conversation and something we're calling a 'watching brief' because the situation around the world is changing rapidly," Abbott told host Kim Blair. 

"We're focussed on keeping our eye on the ball and preparing for safe games for our athletes and right now we need to support our athletes now and during the qualification phase that happens pre-Olympics.

"We haven't had any [concerns] to date, but we've had queries from sports who are looking at sending teams."  

The New Zealand boxing team has been impacted most due to COVID-19.

Last month, the team was preparing in Thailand for the Asia/Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament in Wuhan, where the outbreak started. 

They then moved to train in northern Italy,  where 11 towns are in lockdown due to the deadly virus. 

"The boxing team were standing by in Wuhan to compete and that got cancelled, so they went to train in north Italy and there are queries now and we're sorting out logistics and travel," Abbott added. 

"We need to know where our athletes are and where they're traveling too and what support we can provide for them."

The New Zealand team has arrived in Amman, Jordan for the rescheduled Olympic qualifying tournament next week. 

Abbott is predicting New Zealand could have more than 200 athletes competing at the games. 

The International Olympic Committee is urging athletes to train as normal, despite continual mixed reports about the Games being cancelled or moved.  

"Our basic thoughts are that we will go ahead with the Olympic and Paralympic Games as scheduled," Tokyo organising committee chief executive Toshiro Muto said. 

"For the time being, the situation of the coronavirus infection is, admittedly, difficult to predict, but we will take measures such that we'll have a safe Olympic and Paralympic Games."